The L.A. Complex, episode 1: piano puke edition

The L.A. Complex, episode 1: piano puke edition

The L.A. ComplexEpisode 1

We watched the first episode of The L.A. Complex with more pleasure than a struggling actor landing a mid-season replacement. The pilot of the Hollywood-set drama, from the producers of Degrassi, features unprotected sex on ecstasy, stripping as an under-the-table financial solution and Degrassi’s Cassie Steele puking on a piano after a sultry cover of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care Of Business.”

It is, obviously, perfect. Check out our TV brief, the L.A. Complexus Sexus Nexus (which will fill you in on the sex, friendships, brawls and spurned advances from week to week) and find out which teen soaps have inspired The L.A. Complex after the jump.

In a four-minute montage set to the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Hero,” we are economically introduced our six protagonists, who run the gamut of primetime drama stock characters: we’ve got the ingenues (Abby, a struggling actor facing pressure to return to her native Toronto, and Alicia, a stripper attempting to transition into Usher tours); the aging beauty (Raquel, a former teen idol); the dork with self-esteem issues (Nick, an unfunny comedian in hipster pedophile glasses); and the sensitive hunk (Connor, the star of a Grey’s Anatomy–style medical drama). Conveniently, they all live at the Deluxe Suites, a fleabag apartment complex for the artistically unemployed. Yes, there’s a pool, and while nobody has done it in there yet, things heat up when Connor and Abby have totally realistic unprotected balcony sex minutes after meeting each other. (Explanation: “I thought you were on something.” “Yeah, drugs.” “You didn’t feel anything like skin? “I was on E…the whole world felt like skin.”)

The pilot’s tone shifts between too-cool-for-school cynicism and earnest awkwardness, but there are three outstanding scenes, like when Raquel, having connived her way into an audition, attempts to convince the casting agent that the “black best friend” is something that only happens on TV. (“Do you have a white best friend?” she asks a room full of black actors.) Or when Abby, forced to choose between taking the morning-after pill or attending a promising audition, takes the best-of-both-worlds Hannah Montana route and attempts both. The result? An instant-classic moment when she vomits violently in front of an entire casting room. (“There’s an old saying in show business. When there’s vomit on the piano, it’s time to stop the audition,” quips the director.) Best of all was an amazing Paul F. Tompkins cameo that crushed Nick’s comedic dreams so hard he may never tell a joke about laundry again. (Too bad, since dude bought like a million Moleskines.)

Already snagged for teen soap glory on the CW, The L.A. Complex is a surprisingly raw depiction of aspiring fame-whoredom. If it can keep its cerebral cynicism and hard-bodied sex appeal, we’d say we have a hit on our hands.

The L.A. Complex is a veritable Frankensoap, mining the backlogs of other primetime dramas for inspiration. Here, our weekly look at what they stole and from whom:

Melrose Place had the hot-blooded-singles-living-in-one-big-apartment-complex formula down before most of these actors hit puberty. Speaking of MP, The L.A. Complex seems to have also taken a cue from the remake; Raquel, the aging beauty who starts to notice her crow’s feet while living with a gaggle of dewy kids, is the new Sydney Andrews.

• The casual, unapologetic drug use is a surefire parent scare tactic. Paging Skins.

• If Nick knew more about Death Cab for Cutie and kept company with a plastic horse, we’d call him a proto–Seth Cohen. We know he’s a neurotic, untalented comedian with girl troubles, but does he celebrate Christmukkuh?

• We’d like to think the producers might’ve seen the swiftly cancelled young Hollywood parody Grosse Pointe, which aired on the WB from 2000 to 2001 and was produced by 90210’s Darren Star. But they probably didn’t.